The Garden Club of America (GCA) selects Quercus macrocarpa, Bur Oak as Plant of the Year. Annually GCA has choosen a North American native plant to receive its Montine McDaniel Freeman Medal for Plant of the Year.
Bur Oak is noted for its beautiful shape, long horizontal branches and tolerance for pollution, drought, wind and cold. Hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 8 and parts of Texas, the tree often reaches 100 feet at maturity and commonly lives 200-plus years. Nine-inch, fiddle-shaped, dark green leaves turn yellow-brown to russet in fall, and the fringed-cap acorns are the largest of all native oaks.
“Oaks are critical in supporting native pollinators and providing food and shelter for wildlife,” says Alice Thomasof the GCA. “This outstanding specimen is ideal for parks, street-side locations and large yards,” she says. Bur Oak was nominated for the award by a member of Garden Club of Cincinnati.
Honorable mention Plant of the Year is Arctostaphylos densiflora, ‘Howard McMinn’, nominated by Orinda Garden Club, Orinda, California. This Manzanita cultivar, with striking red bark, is an adaptable mounding shrub tolerating average soil conditions, growing in full sun and popular for xeriscapes. Pink blossoms offer nectar for pollinators in spring, with berries later providing wildlife food. The plant is hardy in USDA Zones 7b to 10, along the Pacific coastline.
The Freeman Medal was established to highlight underutilized, but highly worthy, trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines and perennials. “The goal is to draw attention to select native plants to encourage their use in the landscape and make them familiar to gardeners and more available in nurseries,” says Alice Thomasof the GCA. Annual selection is made by a group of nationally renowned horticulturists and experts in the nursery trade. Woody and herbaceous plants are nominated in alternate years.
The GCA, founded in 1913, is composed of 201 clubs with some 18,000 members who devote energy and expertise to projects in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement across the United States. (www.gcamerica.org)
Steve Jones, The Plantman, is a professional gardener and landscaper. His advice is based on the concept that our goal should be to leave the land better than the way we found it. Or at the very least, to do it no harm.
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